This post is part of a 95 post series discussing the 95 theses of the Cluetrain Manifesto as they relate to business in 2009. Read more about the series in the introduction post. And check out the rest of the series!
Thesis #17: Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on TV are kidding themselves.
This thesis was true when it was written 10 years ago but for different reasons than it is today. The evolution of the marketspace is the biggest change in the worlds of (“big M”) Marketing and PR since the invention of television. The ubiquity of the internet generates the pre-condition for markets (read customers) to talk to each other for free. Once separated by geography, marketspaces are now connected in multiple ways in online communities.
Unsolicited feedback is the rule, not the exception
Corporations are still spending vast amounts of money on research, polling and “focus groups” but the thought-leaders are inviting their markets to provide this information, or better information, for free. On the other hand, as the “Motrin” and “The other white milk” episodes prove, companies can get vociferous and very public feedback whether they want it or not. (We will re-visit these social media firestorms again with Thesis #19)
The Social Media transformation continues
The marketspace is changing, the markets are changing, the customers have already changed. And changed again. Stay-at-home-moms used to be a special sort of target market, ripe for the broadly-cast TV advertising messages. They used to be bored and lonely. Today they represent a purchasing powerhouse that is one of the most interconnected groups in America. Social networking sites report that the SAHM groups are among the most active and most frequent users of the services. The SAHM groups, once isolated, are now spending a lot of time talking, sharing, and comparing information on every product and service available.
For more on this fascinating evolution, I recommend also reading a book by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” . You can find out more about the book at the Groundswell blog. What Marketing Departments need to know
Here are the “secrets” to understanding the changes in marketspace:
1. Your market can now talk back, and to each other, in a way that was impossible during the TV era. 2. Your market is going to talk about your company, its products and services and policies, whether you like it or not – and you cannot control this discussion from the outside. 3. Your market wants a place to gather, to talk and ask questions and share answers. Give them that place or they will build their own.
As Alex wrote in Thesis #11:
…they trust each other WAY more than they trust your marketing department.
In my next post we will explore Thesis #18: how markets are now marketspaces, interconnected person-to-person virtual networks and the impact this has on Marketing.
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